Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tarot Working, part 0

To begin the new year with this tarot working I decided a good first step would be to honor the 0 of The Fool by doing a bit of the work before the bulk of the work. I laid out the cards of the Major Arcana, I lit a candle, lit a little incense, and with prayers to God I called on the cards to come to me in the coming weeks. I named them one by one and meditated on the group. I have declared my intention and I have called the spirits of each of the cards.
The work will begin in earnest on Friday, January 1st. I chose to do the working tonight to try and capitalize on the influence of Mercury.  

Sunday, December 27, 2015

A New Tarot Practice

New for me at least. Beginning on the first day of the new year I'll be doing a working with the spirits of the Major Arcana of the tarot. The idea was proposed by some folks on the StudioArcanis occult forum (
The idea is to form a deeper connection with the cards of the Major Arcana by treating each one as an independent spirit with its own personality and intelligence and attempting to communicate with them. We'll start with The Fool on the 1st of January and devote our attentions on each card for a week, gleaning what information we can and, hopefully, making a strong ally out of them all. If I stay on schedule the working will end in early June.
Meditation, skrying, pendulum dowsing, and visualization will be the main methods I employ but I'm open to changing it up if the working calls for it. I want to be as open as I can be to what may come so I'm making as few preconceived notions as I am able.
I'll be posting my notes on progress and results here.

EDIT: Here are links to each of the posts.
The Fool
The Magician
The Priestess
The Empress
The Emperor
The Hierophant
The Lovers
The Chariot
The Hermit
The Wheel of Fortune
The Hanged Man
The Devil
The Tower
The Star-
The Moon-
The Sun-
The World

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Ebb and Flow of Practice

I trust my spirit allies.
That's all I can really say. My practice in the past few months has waned to a quiet lull. I still have a connection to spirits and my divination tools still work but the actual practice, actually doing stuff, has been minimal beyond daily offerings and prayers.
I still feel the help of spirits in small things; helping me catch a plane when I'm running late, intuitive whispers helping me find a parking spot, glimpses into the personal lives of strangers, and other assistances. I value the presence of spirits in my life.
Things happen as they need to. It may be quiet now but I know that soon enough things will get busier. One of the big advantages to doing this work over years and decades is that I know I'll never lose my connections and my allies. And I know they have my interest in mind.
I put my trust in them.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Picatrix Spirits of the Mansions of the Moon

The Mansions of the Moon is a concept that is once again taking its place in prominence in Western magic. Here, for your general edification, is the list of each of the Mansions and the qualities of the spirit of the Mansion depending on the phase of the Moon. This list is taken from the Greer & Warnock translation of then Latin Picatrix. As the Moon waxes and wanes the spirits of the Mansions of the Moon become at turns beneficial and wrathful. There is a lot of material here that is ripe for experimentation.

The Picatrix Spirits of the Mansions of the Moon

  1. The first Mansion of the Moon, 0 Aries to 12 degrees 51 minutes Aries, is called Alnath. The angel of the house of Alnath is Geriz. The peaceful aspect of Geriz (waxing, beneficially aspected Moon) watches over the beginnings of journeys, the effective administration of medicines, and traveling safely. The wrathful aspect of Geriz (waning, afflicted Moon) watches over discord between partners, causing servants to flee, and killing. 
  2. The second Mansion is called Albotayn, 12 degrees 51 minutes Aries to 25 degrees 42 minutes Aries. The angel of the house of Albotayn is Enedil. Enedil peaceful presides over the digging of successful wells, finding hidden treasure, planting wheat, and removing anger. Enedil wrathful presides over destroying unfinished buildings, enraging men against each other, and improving the incarceration of slaves.
  3. The third Mansion, 25 degrees 42 minutes Aries to 8 degrees 34 minutes Taurus, is called Azoraya. The angel of the house of Azoraya is Annuncia. Annuncia beneficial helps with the acquisition of all good things, to sail and return safely, to complete works of alchemy and all works done by fire, to hunt successfully in the country, and to cause love between man and wife. Annuncia wrathful helps to more firmly incarcerate captives.
  4. The fourth Mansion of the Moon is Aldebaran, 8 degrees 34 minutes Taurus to 21 degrees 25 minutes Taurus. The angel of the house of Aldebaran is Assarez. Assarez peaceful is useful to kill and bind reptiles and venomous animals. Assurez wrathful is useful for the destruction of cities, villages, or buildings, for lords to despise their servants, for placing discord between man and wife, for destroying fountains and streams, for destroying those who seek treasure underground, for all things pertaining to hatred, separation, and ill will, and for obtaining enmity.  
  5. The fifth Manision of the Moon is Almices, 21 degrees 25 minutes Taurus to 4 degrees 17 minutes Gemini. The angel of the house of Almices is Cabil. Cabil peaceful watches over good receptions with kings and officials, visions during sleep, helping youths learn arts, the salvation of travelers, to improve buildings, and to place favor between husband and wife. Cabil wrathful is useful to destroy friendship between two people.
  6. The sixth Mansion of the Moon is Achaya, 4 degrees 17 minutes Gemini to 17 degrees 8 minutes Gemini. The angel of the  house of Achaya is Nedeyrahe. Nedeyrahe peaceful presides over putting love between two people and improving hunting in the country. Nedeyrahe wrathful presides over the destruction of cities and the besieging of cities with armies, to help enemies of kings exact revenge, to destroy crops and trees, and to destroy medicines and make them ineffective.
  7. The seventh Mansion is called Aldira, 17 degrees 8 minutes Gemini to 0 degrees Cancer. The angel of the house of Aldira is Siely. Siely peaceful presides over the acquisition of all good things, increase in merchandise and profit, to travel safely, to increase crops, to sail beneficially, to cause friendship between friends and allies, to expel flies, for benefits in the presence of kings and high nobles, to cause kings to be benevolent.  Siely wrathful presides over the destruction of officials.
  8. The eighth Mansion is called Annathra, 0 degrees Cancer to 12 degrees 51 minutes Cancer. The angel of the house of Annathra is Annediex. Annediex peaceful presides over gaining victory, love and friendship, safe travel in wagons across the countryside, and friendship between allies. Annediex wrathful presides over making the incarceration of captives firm and the destruction and affliction of captives. 
  9. The ninth Mansion is called Atarfa, 12 degrees 51 minutes Cancer to 25 degrees 42 minutes Cancer. The angel of the house of Atarfa is Raubel. Raubel peaceful presides over helping a man to defend himself from another. Raubel wrathful presides over causing infimity, destroying crops, making travelers unfortunate, to do evil to all men, to cause division and hatred between allies.
  10. The tenth Mansion is called Algebha, 25 degrees 42 minutes Cancer to 8 degrees 34 minutes Leo. The angel of the house of Alebha is Aredafir. Aredafir peaceful presides over curing infirmities and easing childbirth, placing love between man and wife, strengthening and completing buildings, and to obtain the love of allies and mutual help. Aredafir wrathful presides over the destruction of enemies, and to make firm the incarceration of captives.
  11. The eleventh Mansion is called Azobra, 8 degrees 34 minutes Leo to 21 degrees 25 minutes Leo. The angel of the house of Azobra is Necol. Necol peaceful presides over receiving good things, rescuing  captives, safe travels on roads, strengthening buildings, and inceasing the wealth of allies. Necol wrathful presides over being feared and to besiege cities and profit thereby.
  12. The twelfth Mansion is called Azarfa, 21 degrees 25 minutes Leo to 4 degrees 17 minutes Virgo. The angel of the house of Azarfa is Abdizu. Abdizu peaceful presides over increasing harvests and plants and the improvement of relationship with allies, officials, captives, and servants that they will be steadfast and honest. Abdizu wrathful presides over the separation of lovers and the destruction of riches and ships.
  13. The thirteenth Mansion of the Moon is called Alahue, 4 degrees 17 minutes Virgo to 17 degrees 8 minutes Virgo. The angel of the house of Alahue is Azerut. Azarut peaceful presides over liberation of men who are not able to come to women, putting love between men and women, increase of harvests, travelers having good journeys on the roads, completion of buildings, freedom of captives, binding of nobles to have good from them. Azerut wrathful presides over the binding of nobles to have good from them. [I listed this twice because it strikes me as ambiguous in terms of benefit or liability. Also with out it Azerut would have no wrathful duties.]
  14. The fourteenth Mansion of the Moon is Azimech, 17 degrees 8 minutes Virgo to 0 degrees Libra. The angel of the house of Azimech is Erdigal. Erdigal peaceful is useful to put love between man and wife, to heal the sick with physic and medicine, to benefit kings that they may have good and ascend to their reign, for sailors to sail well and safely, and for friendship of allies. Erdegal wrathful is useful for separating men from women, for destroying harvests and plants, for destroying lust, and for the destruction of those who go by roads. 
  15. The fifteenth Mansion of the Moon is Algafra, 0 degrees Libra to 12 degrees 51 minutes Libra. The angel of the house of Algafra is Achalich. Achalich peaceful is useful for the acquisition of friendship and good will, for digging wells, to seek underground treasure, for the joining together of friends and lovers, and anything that pertains to friends and lovers. Achalich wrathful is useful for impeding travelers so that they are unable to go on journeys, to separate husbands and wives so that they never join with each other, to place discord between friends and allies, to scatter enemies from your area, and for the destruction of the reputation of the family house [name] of your enemies.
  16. The sixteenth Mansion of the Moon is Azebene, 12 degrees 51 minutes Libra to 25 degrees 42 minutes Libra. The angel of the house of Azebene is Azeruch. Azeruch peaceful is useful to making money [earning] and liberate captives from incarceration. Azeruch wrathful presides over the destruction of merchandise, harvests and plants, putting discord between friends and between man and wife, debauching a woman you desire, impeding those who journey so that the end of their road is never reached and to cause hatred between friends.
  17. The seventeenth Mansion of the Moon is Alichil, 25 degrees 42 minutes Libra to 8 degrees 36 minutes Scorpio. The angel of the house of Alichil is Adrieb. Adrieb peaceful is useful to stop thieves and criminals that they may not enter the house, make buildings firm and stable, to save sailors on the sea, to begin friendships that will be durable and never destroyed, to produce lasting love. Adrieb wrathful is useful for improving deceptions and for besieging cities and villages.
  18. The eighteenth Mansion of the Moon is Alcalb, 8 degrees 34 minutes Scorpio to 21 degrees 25 minutes Scorpio. The angel of the house of Alcalb is Egrebel. Egrebel peaceful is useful to take away fevers and infirmities of the belly, to guard the house from serpents and hurtful beasts, to build buildings that will be strong, and to free captives from incarceration. Egrebel wrathful is useful for men to conspire against kings, for vengeance against enemies, whatever else of the nature of vengeance and conspiracy, and to separate friends.
  19. The nineteenth Mansion of the Moon is Axaula, 21 degrees 25 minutes Scorpio to 4 degrees 17 minutes Sagittarius. The angel of the house of Axaula is Annucel. Annucel peaceful is useful to bring on the menses of women, to help women give birth quickly and without danger, to improve the lot of men traveling by wagon through the countryside, to increase harvests, to cause captives to escape. Annucel wrathful is helpful to besiege cities and villages and to take them, to destroy the wealth of whomever you please, to expel men from a particular place, to break and destroy ships, to separate and destroy the riches of allies, and to kill captives.
  20. The twentieth Mansion of the Moon is Alnaym, 4 degrees 17 minutes Sagittarius to 17 degrees 8 minutes Sagittarius. The angel of the house of Alnaym is Queyhuc. Queyhuc peaceful is useful to take everything in the world that you hunt, to tame wild and disobedient beasts, to bring those traveling in wagons swiftly back again, for men to come wherever you wish, for good people to be joined together. Queyhuc wrathful is useful to firmly incarcerate captives and to bring evil and destruction to the riches of allies.
  21. The twenty first Mansion of the Moon is Albelda, 17 degrees 8 minutes Sagittarius to 0 degrees Capricorn. The angel of the house of Albelda is Bectue. Bectue peaceful is useful to strengthen buildings, to increase harvests, to make profit and firmly keep the money, and to go safely through the countryside. Bectue wrathful is helpful for destruction, for the destruction and depopulation of a place, to separate wives from their proper husbands.
  22. The twenty second Mansion of the Moon is Sadahaca, 0 degrees Capricorn to 12 degrees 51 minutes Capricorn. The angel of the house of Sadahaca is Geliel. Geliel peaceful is useful to cure illness, to cause good will between allies, to make captives escape, and for the safety of fugitives. Geliel wrathful is helpful for the binding of tongues, to put discord between two people, and to make servants flee.
  23. The twenty third Mansion of the Moon is Zaadebola, 12 degrees 51 minutes Capricorn to 25 degrees 42 minutes Capricorn. The angel of the house of Zaadebola is Zequebin. Zequebin peaceful is useful to heal illness, to join friends together, and for captives to escape and flee their prisons. Zequebin wrathful is for destruction and devestation, to drive people from a place and destroy it, and to divide husbands from their wives.
  24. The twenty fourth Mansion of the Moon is Caadezod, 25 degrees 42 minutes Capricorn to 8 degrees 24 minutes Aquarius. The angel of the house of Caadezod is Abrine. Abrine peaceful is useful to improve and guard herds, to increase merchandise and make a profit from it, for goodwill between husband and wife, and for soldiers to report victory over their enemies. Abrine wrathful is helpful to destroy the money of allies, and to prevent an official from doing their duties.  
  25. The twenty fifth Mansion of the Moon is Zaadalahbia, 8 degrees 24 minutes Aquarius to 21 degrees 25 minutes Aquarius. The angel of the house of Zaadalahbia is Aziel. Aziel peaceful is useful for the protection of orchards and crops from evil accidents, to make messengers convey messages and return quickly and to secure buildings. Aziel wrathful is helpful to besiege cities and villages, to take enemies and do evil to them as much as you please, to separate wives from their husbands, to destroy harvests, to bind a man and wife or woman and her husband so they cannot copulate, to bind a part of the body so that it cannot function properly, and to strengthen the prison of captives.
  26. The twenty sixth Mansion of the Moon is Al Fargh al Awwal, 21 degrees 25 minutes Aquarius to 4 degrees 17 minutes Pisces. The angel of the house of Al Fargh al Awwal is Tagriel. Tagriel peaceful is useful for the creation of love, to bind people in mutual love, to protect those who travel in wagons, and to strengthen buildings. Tagriel wrathful is useful to make the incarceration of captives firm and to cause evil to them.
  27. The twenty seventh Mansion of the Moon is Al Fargh al Thani, 4 degrees 17 minutes Pisces to 17 degrees 8 minutes Pisces. The angel of the house of Al Fargh al Thani is Abliemel. Abliemel peaceful is useful to acquire profit and increase merchandise, to unite allies, to increase harvests, and to heal illness. Abliemel wrathful is useful for the destruction of springs and wells, to destroy the riches of whomever you wish, to impede the building of buildings, to put travelers on the sea in peril, to prolong the incarceration of captives, and to do evil to whomever you wish.
  28. The twenty eighth Mansion of the Moon is Arrexhe, 17 degrees 8 minutes Pisces to 0 degrees Aries. The angel of the house of Arrexhe is Anuxi.  Anuxi peaceful is useful to bring fish together in one place, to increase merchandise, to increase harvests, to travel safely by wagon and safely return, and to cause peace and concord between man and wife. Anuxi wrathful is useful to besiege cities, to get rid of things, to destroy an area, to make treasures be lost, to make incarceration of captives firm, and to inflict evil on sailors on the sea.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Comments on the Picatrix. Book II, chapter 1

Let's keep talking about the Picatrix! Book II is a fascinating book of astrological and magical knowledge. One of the reasons I am so fascinated by this section is that at a few points the book says this is all symbolic and full of dissimilation. Riddles within riddles. In fact it is with this admonition that Book II begins.
(And, for the record, I am pulling from Greer & Warnock's translation of the Latin Picatrix.)
The wise who are endowed by nature with intelligence never cease nor neglect to seek and inquire that they might learn and understand the secrets of the sages, who sealed them up in their books and wrote them in hidden words, that the aforesaid might search them out by careful investigation until they arrive at what they desire; but those who are stupid and lacking in intelligence will never reach it or arrive at it.

Straight away the message is that this stuff takes work to understand. The book tells you flat out, the real message is hidden behind the words. Personally this gives me pause. Step up to the challenge or you'll never get it! Though perhaps I'm putting a little too much pressure on myself and I should simply keep in kind that much of the material is to be read figuratively.

Yet the motive that drives me proceeds from investigating magic and forbidden things, in which I prospered from the days of my youth.

In the footnotes of the G&W Picatrix there is a note that this line is a reference to the Bible, specifically Isaiah 47:12. It is curious to me that the author would make this reference since Isaiah, chapter 47 is a essentially a curse against astrology and magic. I take it as a thumbing of the nose at religious authority.
I studied Ptolemy's Centiloquium, in which it is said that all things in this world obey the celestial forms. Indeed all the sages agree in this, that the planets have influences and powers in this world, by which all things in it are made and transformed by the movements of the planets through the signs. For this reason sages understand that the foundation of magic is the movement of the planets.
This is the underpin of the entire work; that all of its magic is based on the interaction of the fixed stars, the planets, and the cardinal points of the astrological chart (ascendant, midheaven, descendant, nadir). This passage is reminiscent of Agrippa's  That No Divination Without Astrology Is Perfect (3BoOP, Book 2, Chapter 53). But of course we already knew that the Picatrix was a book of astrological magic. As we proceed we should also keep this in mind as one of the keys to the riddles and the figurative writing. To continue the quotes.
I wish to present the following example, which I learned from a certain sage who labored in this science, who stayed in Egypt in the royal palace. There also dwelt a certain youth who came from a region in India, and who had progressed far by much study in the aforesaid science. 
That sage said to me that, while he and this youth were talking together, they heard the voice of someone lamenting that he had been stung by a scorpion and was about to die. When he heard this, the youth took a piece of cloth from his purse, within which were seals that smelled strongly of incense. He instructed that one of these be given in a drink, and he would recover at once. The sage said that he rose up at once, desiring to learn more and find out the reason for this, received one of the seals from the youth's hands and gave it to the victim of the scorpion sting in a drink, as he had instructed; and at once the victim made an end to his cries of woe, and was saved.
This is a curious passage. It begins with "as an example". An example of what? Given the preceding paragraphs and their message of figurative speaking it is this speaking in code that we are presumably sampling.
First we have the scorpion which probably indicates the sign of Scorpio. Scorpio is a water sign and so the cure being in the form of a drink makes sense.
Also, after reading this page several times it occurs to me that it could just as easily be describing a mercy killing as a cure. The victim is given the drink and abruptly ceases his cries. Maybe, maybe not. I also find it interesting that the narrator takes the seal and produces the drink, not the youth from India. Is this significant? Probably but I haven't figured out how yet. Perhaps it is indicative of the passing of knowledge from teacher to student.
The sage said that he then inspected the seal, and saw that it had the figure of a scorpion on it.
This line is important because it tells us that the seal was not consumed in the process of making the drink suggesting it is probably made of wax with incense mixed in it.
When he asked the youth what had sealed it, the youth showed him a gold ring set with an engraved bezoar bearing the figure of a scorpion. The sage inquired of him what the figure was and by what secret influences it accomplished what I described. The youth answered that the figure was made when the Moon was in the second face of Scorpio, and this was the secret of the power of the ring. This is what the sage said to me. I then made a figure of the same sort at the prescribed time, with which I sealed and suffumigated seals like the one he described, and with them worked wonders at which everyone marveled.
Gold and bezoar stones are both items whose occult virtues lie in purity. Gold was the perfected metal, the metal that all other metals aspired to be. When a metal became gold it had achieved physical and spiritual perfection. Bezoars are masses that form in the digestive tracts of goats, sheep, and cattle. For hundreds of years bezoar stones were believed to be universal antidotes for all poisons. So your carved bezoar set in gold is a tool for removing impurities and poisons.
The Moon, of course, pours all the influences upon the earth from whatever her position is. When she is in Scorpio all works of magic are connected to the influence of that sign (or constellation if you prefer to work with sidereal astrology). The second face is the fixed face of Scorpio (as opposed to mutable or cardinal) and is strong with its influence. Later in Book II we learn that the second face of Scorpio is the face in which to make images that "drive away tarantulas and snakes from whatever place you wish". Presumably we can also add scorpions to the poisonous beasts we want to drive away.
So we have gold (spiritual purity) + bezoar (antidote) + 2nd face of Scorpio (drive away pests) = cure for scorpion stings. The attributes of Scorpio tell us what form the administering of the cure should take (as water).
I find it curious that the phase of the moon is not mentioned. I would suggest that one of the waning phases would be appropriate to a working of this nature.
This passage also gives us the basic, philosophic process for creating talismans. One starts with the purpose or goal of the talisman, then considers the material in support of the goal, and lastly considers the astrological configuration that will support the goal.
Let's continue.
For this reason you must realize and understand that no one can realize and understand the virtues and powers of the heavens in this little world unless they have studied the natural and mathematical quadrivium, and whoever is ignorant of these sciences will be imperfect in his knowledge of the movements of heaven, nor will he be able to understand them, nor draw to himself what he wishes, because the compositions and foundations thereof are drawn from these subjects. Whoever is ignorant of arithmetic and geometry will be unable to calculate the motions of the celestial bodies, nor their returns and transits, nor to grasp the motions of those things by which the understanding is formed in arithmetic and geometry.
Thankfully these days we have technology that does most of this calculation for us. But that's not to diminish the importance of arithmetic and geometry.
Similarly you must learn music to understand the numbers and proportions of things, and in what manner celestial things correspond in love and hatred with terrestrial actions, and why the effects of celestial bodies are more apparent in one earthly thing than another.
This is another interesting passage about the philosophy of astrological magic. It seems to me that what the author is describing is that each star, constellation, planet, and everything beneath them, on Earth, has a vibration, a frequency. Some of the frequencies are harmonious and strengthen each other, and some are disharmonious and cancel each other out. This is the Music of the Spheres as all the vibrations, like music, affect each other as they descend from the heavens to earth. All the aspects for each body affects its frequency. This is the model on which the early practitioners of this magic based their work.
Indeed, anyone who does not grasp these proportions lacks any understanding of how these effects come to be, nor will such a person be able to work out the correspondences between causes and effects or vice versa.
The events on Earth have reflections in the stars and the composition of the stars is reflected in the events on the Earth. How far do we take the solipsism in this instance? If I were to look at a astrological chart of this moment would the condition of my own circumstances be reflected there too? The answer is yes but it is modified by the conditions of my natal chart.
Likewise he who neglects the natural sciences will not be able to understand the process of generation and corruption, and their causes, because if he does not know these things, he will not be able to understand or apply the effects that celestial bodies have, or the powers they exert over terrestrial bodies. Similarly, one who is ignorant of metaphysics will be unable to learn or understand how celestial virtues are infused in some terrestrial places and not in others. Therefore it may be concluded that no one will be able to understand or apply this science perfectly except for one who learns its orders and foundations, which no one will be able to learn except a philosopher who has extracted everything from the parts of philosophy already named. For this reason no one will be able to attain to perfection in this science except for a perfect philosopher.
And this is good advice no matter what branch or style of magic one is endeavoring to practice. The lessons and pertinent knowledge go beyond the magic itself. Germ theory and Quantum Physics were unknown in their present states when the Picatrix was written but the knowledge of these sciences does not diminish the effectiveness of the Picatrix. In fact, this passage tells us, the wider the knowledge and understanding of the practitioner the more powerful that practitioner will be in its magic.
Learn all you can about everything. It all counts and everything in the world is a part of this magic in one way or another.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Super Blood Moon

Forget the planetary day and hour, tonight was all about the Moon. I did my work, did you do yours?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Bone Divination, part 1

Frucissiere sigil

Today I drew Frucissiere's sigil on the sidewalk at a crossroads near my house. I drew it as a base on which to leave a thanks offering for the instructions I've received. 
I've been curious about bone divination. In the Grimorium Verum Frucissiere's powers are listed as:
“Frucissière, called also Frulhel or Frastiel, can bring you anyone you want whether dead or alive. Said also: revives the dead. Also said: he has the powers of infernal necromancy by the divination of dry bones.”

The Divination of dry bones.  I have been working with Frucissiere to learn divination by bones. I have received my first lessons. I have started collecting bones. I have been doing research. More to follow.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Artwork For Spirits

Scirlin Head, archival inkjet print, 2015

Two Crooked Sticks, archival inkjet print, 2015

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

I Am Not A Demonolator

Up until just a few days ago I had no real idea what Demonolatry actually was. I tended to shy away from any reference to Demonolatry that I would come across on the interwebs in the course of researching spirits. But as I dig deeper and deeper into the spirits of the Grimorium Verum it seemed to me a question that I needed to answer for my own peace of mind. If I were to work with the grimoiric spirits in a meditative way without the prescribed ritual restraints of the classic grimoires does that make me a demonolator?
As I saw it the first step was to find out from demonolators what Demonolatry was. I purchased "The Complete Book of Deomonolatry" and "Demonolatry Goetia" both by S. Connolly and "Goetic Demonolatry" by Ellen Purswell. In the past few days I have started, but not finished, all three books. I have read the most of the "Complete Book" because it has the most basic information.
While I do think there are some methods and philosophies that can be helpful in spirit relationships I can say with some confidence that there is enough of a difference in philosophy that I do not count myself among them.
One of the things I discovered in my research is that Demonolatry is not quite as immature as I had perceived. It had, up to this point, struck me as a thing rebellious kids did to be edgy and to frighten the grandparents. This is also kind of how I perceive the Juggalo fans of the band The Insane Clown Posse. There is, however, a certain amount of self-consciousness about Demonolatry; a feeling that they must fight for their own legitimacy. Though perhaps I'm picking this up from the writing style of S. Connolly and members may or may not feel this way. It seems to be the awkwardness of newness. While there are accounts of a "lineage" going back hundreds of years the movement really started with the Internet Age and so is barely twenty years old yet, still infancy in religious terms.
Respectful treatment of the spirits as ancient and powerful is a theme that I can definitely get behind. In fact it was taking this tone with these spirits that brought the question up in the first place. There is much, however, on which we differ. Here are a few highlights.
First and foremost is the concept of God. In Demonolatry it is the demons and specifically Satan that is considered the highest power. I will probably get into another post about my concept of God but suffice to say now that it is not Satan. Nor do I feel the need to attach such a culturally laden label to my ideas about God.
Secondly the information about correspondences attributed to each of the demons (Enns, elemental, and astrological attributions) strike me as someone's personal gnosis that the whole group is running with. The Enns in particular strike me as something I could come up with and my own invention would suit me better than what is published.
Third, the spiritual focus is very narrow, constricted to the hierarchies presented in the books. There seems to be no room for other spirits. By itself this is fine but it is another point in which I differ.
Fourth, I really dislike the word "demonolatry". It points out the weird love/hate relationship with Christianity that much of Satanic philosophy is built upon. It sounds like idolatry which is a word that I have only come across in the Abrahamic religions. It is the use of this word that contributes much of the air of immaturity about the philosophy, in my opinion.
So... some of my methods and philosophies could be described as demonolatrist in that I'm not treating these spirits as flat out enemies. Powerful? Yes. Dangerous? Potentially. Automatic enemy? No. Automatic friend? No.
I guess in many ways I'm still working on a definition of what I'm practicing, but Demonolatry is not it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Bloodstone

It shines like the sun. It burns like a torch. Prometheus's blood illuminates and delineates.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Tarot Essay: The 10 of Swords

The tarot is very important to me. It is my preferred method of divination and I find it to be a fluid and varied set of symbols that continuously unfolds and shows me new things and insights. Let's explore, for a few moments, the symbolic connotations of one of the tarot cards.  Eventually I'd like to get through all 78 but I'll be tackling them one at a time and not necessarily in any specific order.

10 of Swords
 Asking my deck which of the cards to write about I have pulled the 10 of Swords. The Ten of Swords, in the Marseilles deck that I am using, indicates the end of cycles on the mental plane. 10s are endings, deaths, the shell that is left after life has vacated a thing. Applied to the mental plane this could be ancient ideologies, old ideas that no one subscribes to anymore; the policies of an Old Guard that are considered embarrassing to believe. The 10 of Swords indicates forgotten technologies lying dormant in lost books. 10s are passive / receptive numbers they indicate the full cessation in the turning of a cycle, the desiccated bones of a once mighty beast. No more chance for growth.  All putrefaction has ended and now nutrients wait for the spark of the next cycle to begin.

In a divination the 10 of Swords indicates a resting period, a space in between the active waning of old ideas and the germination of new ideas. It is a card that tells you to let things be, stop thinking about it. The moment when these ideas were valid has passed. It is time to abandon the plans.  

Looking at the continuum of benefit to liability on one end we have rest, the end of a cycle of growth with all its trials, hardships and rewards. In light of the Swords suit this could be the day after academic graduation.
On the other end we have loss, the shocked silence after an immediate cessation of ideas and thoughts. It could be a traitor lying comfortably in a country to whom he sold his homeland.  It could be amnesia from a traumatic brain injury.

The image of this card always struck me as looking like two swords thrust into a pair of lungs through a ribcage. Given the airy connotations of the suit of Swords this makes some sense to me. It fits the tone of this card. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Beginning With The Tarot, pt 1

Advice to those beginning to use tarot cards.
1. The magic lies in shuffling. The magic lies in knowing when to stop.
2. If the cards don't make sense the error lies in the interpretation.
3. Even if you can't interpret the reading into words, a part of you still understands.
4. All interpretations are correct.
5. Rules that include who can touch your cards, how they need to be energized or cleansed, or how they need to stored you set yourself. Make your own rules.
6. All the cards have a range of interpretations.

More to come...

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Where The Power Lies

In the downtown area where I work there is a Nike store that has had a sign in their window advertising a shoe "so fast it comes with an airbag". I find the advertisement amusing partly because I like to image an airbag inflating in someone's face if they stub a toe but mostly because of a mentality that assumes that power is granted by an object. Magic is full of this. I constantly hear talk of which grimoire is the most powerful, which tarot cards the most accurate. It's like asking a couple of kids whose bicycle is faster. Sure the performance of one bike may be more efficient or it may be lighter than the other but that is not the source of the power of the bike. The power comes from the strength and determination of the rider.
The same can be said of grimoires and tarot cards. The effectiveness of both of these items have less to do with their content and more to do with the conviction of the practitioner.
Let's take the case of the Simon Necronomicon. This is a book mostly based on the fictional works of H.P. Lovecraft. It was published in the late 1970s and was a mix of Babylonian names, invented sigils, and material from Lovecraft's writings. It has no pedigree or ancient lineage. But people have gotten it to work, contacted its spirits according to the procedures in the book, and it has spawned a subset of grimoiric magic all its own.
Why are there Hello Kitty tarot cards that people are able to use effectively? Because the content is secondary to the practitioner.
Content is secondary to the practitioner.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Hearing From Spirits, part 2

I made a mistake.
My mistake was thinking that I needed to keep my First Character on my person at all times. Now, granted, I don't shower with it, but even then it is only a few feet away. In retrospect I think it would have been better to leave it behind for an hour.  Here is how I learned this lesson.
A few days ago, while on vacation, my family and I decided to go to the river to go swimming. My First Character was laminated in 5 mil plastic and I also put it in a tiny zipper baggie. It was waterproof. With the double wrapped seal in my pocket I wadded into the river. I dipped my head under the water and when I came up I instinctively put my hand to my pocket to check on the seal and it was gone! In a panic I looked around and saw it floating down the river! I swam after it and caught it. It was undamaged and all was well. We swam for a bit more and then we prepared to leave.
Our little party split up because we took two cars. The group I was with got in our car and it wouldn't start. The other car with the others took off down the road before we could stop them. It was a Saturday and it was the Fourth of July, a holiday in the United States in which virtually no businesses are open. None of us had a phone and we were in rural Montana so the phone wouldn't have helped anyway. To get out of the situation we had to walk to a house about a half mile away and use their phonebook and phone to call for help.
It was then that I started to wonder if perhaps swimming with the First Character was a less than ideal idea.
One of the other activities on this vacation was to attend a raku party in which guests glaze a ceramic vase that is then fired in a kiln. Most of the guests' vessels turned out beautifully but every one of mine broke in the fire. I glazed six of them and took measures to make sure they would survive but none did.
In things spiritual I tend to a bit of solipsism and I try to temper it with an objective view but these two events suggest that perhaps I had not endeared myself to Astaroth by this action.
Now I find myself consulting my divination tools to find out if I have indeed made a mistake, if I have offended Astaroth, and what to do to remedy the situation. As I began this post, I know that I did make a mistake. The Wolf Coin suggests that Astaroth is not offended but that it was this spirit that affected the car troubles. Maybe sort of like saying "I'm not mad, but don't do it again". I have consulted my tarot cards as to what the remedy should be but I am still interpreting the answer.
I guess that if I had really offended Astaroth the consequences would have, or could have, been much worse. I will chalk this little adventure up to initiation trials, albeit rather minor.
Don't put the seals of Chthonic and Infernal spirits under water.
Lesson learned.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Tarot Essay: The Ace of Wands

The tarot is very important to me. It is my preferred method of divination and I find it to be a fluid and varied set of symbols that continuously unfolds and shows me new things and insights. Let's explore, for a few moments, the symbolic connotations of one of the tarot cards.  Eventually I'd like to get through all 78 but I'll be tackling them one at a time and not necessarily in any specific order.

The Ace of Wands

Ace of Wands, first card of the suit of Wands, is a card with some very potent symbolism. Generally Wands represent creativity, energy, life force and sexuality and is almost always represented as a stick or branch. The traditional elemental attribution is to Fire. There are a couple of contexts in which these attributions make sense.
One of these contexts is Prometheus's fennel stalk. Prometheus stole the spark of fire from Olympus by hiding it in a fennel stalk to transport it to humanity. In my view this is the first image of the Ace of Wands, the hollow stick holding the spark of divine fire within it. The divine fire is creativity itself from which springs innovation and all culture. The fire is a spiritual fire and not a physical fire but the two do share some qualities. Its movement is upward, rising. Elemental fire is the lightest and most subtle of the four and lifts like hot air above the others. Spiritual fire also energizes and incites movement.
The Wand with the Spiritual fire inside also symbolizes all life. The Spiritual fire becomes the energy of life within living things, pushing out in all directions not only as spiritual emanation but also as metabolism and growth of the physical body. This is the image of the sprouting or fruiting branch. The sprouting branch as Ace of Wands also aptly symbolizes the creative nature of this card as it is continually creating leaves and fruit. In this respect the Wand is similar to the Shiva Lingam, a phallic symbol from which all forms are created.
Through history wands and staffs have been symbols of authority. In this context the Ace of Wands is God bestowing the wand of divine authority. This is Moses's staff, the magician's wand, and the scepter of a king.
The Ace of Wands is generally a very positive card but it does have attributes on the liability end of the spectrum of its meanings. Numerically this card is a 1, the very beginning, and can represent energy that is wild, amorphous, and perhaps unattainable. If you needed energy for a specific purpose this could indicate seeing it exists all around but not necessarily in the form you need. Like feeling a room full of people alive with nervous or excited energy but actually wanting an outlet with electrical energy.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

On The First Character

This morning, during the hour of Mars, at dawn, I performed the rite of the First Character from the Grimorium Verum. This is a big step forward on this path and is a step that indicates true commitment to the practice.

Recto side of my First Character.

One could argue that I have done things way out of order. One way to interpret the instructions is that one is supposed to have this little talisman made and in place before starting any of the work of gathering tools or any of it. I, however, interpreted the instructions to mean that the First Character was part of the operations involving the parchment and so must be carried out after all the tools had been gathered. But in studying the material to prepare the talisman I noted that there is no instruction in terms of astrological timing other than the day and hour. In other words there was nothing about Moon phase or any of the zodiacal signs. Nor do the instructions actually call for the use of consecrated parchment.
This morning's operation was a bit of a compromise. The tools are not yet all finished but I have the tools to bless and asperge everything and draw out the characters. Often in cases like this I trust that I am guided by my intuition and that things are proceeding as they are supposed to.
And now the talisman is in a pocket of a tee shirt under my shirt and tie as I write this. I had a difficult time finding pocket tee shirts in plain white for under $10 each. But I eventually did and now I wear it inside out so that the pocket is on the right hand side.
And yes, that is not red ink on the talisman. I used diabetic lancets to let the blood with which I drew the character. I stabbed my pinky finger probably 7 or 8 times to get enough blood for drawings on both sides.

Astaroth sigil on the verso side of my First Character.

And so the initiation has begun. By this the practice deepens.

I find the use of blood curious in this operation. Such a powerful symbol encompassing Life, Death, Energy, Identity, Health, Family, and a whole host of other concepts. I must say that now that the operation is finished I think the gravity of this act is only just now slowly dawning on me. At the time I thought little of it and had more reaction to the anticipation of pain in lancing my finger than I did to laying my essence on the paper. In this context does the blood work as an offering? Or is its purpose more for unambiguous identity? This First Character is mine and I have signed up in the most bonding way possible, signed in my own blood. Perhaps both.
As I write this it is now six hours since I did the rite. I've been trying to stay very observant of my environment and any internal changes. So far the day seems to be moving in a more or less normal pattern for me.
We shall see what the challenges of this initiation will be.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Frustration

Indulge me for a moment, dear reader, as I express some frustration.
One thing left.
The Jupiter knife. That is the last piece in this stage. Once I have that I will have all the basic items prescribed by the True Grimoire to begin the work in earnest. Or at least to move on to the parchment steps. While not every thing I have gathered so far has been properly consecrated it has none the less been procured.
Except for this knife.
For several months now something has been coming up during the one hour on a Thursday each month when the window opens. Especially with work. Is there a correlation there? What is the lesson I am supposed to be learning by this delay?
In reading the Grimorium Verum Yahoo Group archives about the knives it seems that this knife was the first tool for some to procure. It makes sense in that it is mentioned first in the book and requires no spirit sigils in its consecration. But of course I'm doing things ass backward.
The quest continues.
Thank you for my childish rant. I feel better now.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Further Meditations on Surgat

In the course of working with Surgat I have been receiving more information on his nature and ways to work with him.
Thinking of Surgat in shamanic terms he is the "Opener of the Ways". In this way he has connections to Charon the Ferryman. He helps the magician to transverse barriers and penetrate membranes but he is not a spirit of transportation. He is stationary in the sense that he remains at the gateway; Charon never leaves the river.
Surgat's symbol is the open archway, or better yet, an arcade of open archways. The post and lintel and the vaulted arch both work but the vaulted arch is better. The open arches also reinforce my thinking of Surgat as an airy spirit as they carry connotations of ventilation and the movement of air. I also saw what at first appeared to be a starburst but which resolved into a vision of an infinite number of paths extending into a vanishing point. Doors were open before me as far as I could see and the straight paths extending forever forward until they all met at a point on the horizon.
Then I was reminded of a time in my youth in which I had violated a person's trust and gone snooping where I wasn't welcome. I was told that not all locks are meant to be opened. Whoever places a lock, be it literal or metaphoric, put it in place for a reason. I was told of the potential violating nature of breaking a lock. It was characterized as a kind of rape. I received another warning on the opening of gateways which was to remember that when doors are open they are open both ways. Opening a door for yourself could open it for others as well.
Gate surmounted by the eagle, another symbol of Surgat

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Astrachios Prayer

In Jake Stratton-Kent's True Grimoire he gives his reconstruction of the Prayer For Success.
Astrachios, Asac, Acra Bedrimuliel, Silat, Arabonas, Irehalem, Ideodoc, Archarzel, Blautel, Baracata, Adonai, Elohim, Emagro, Abragateh, Samoel, Geburahel, Cadato, Era, Elohi, Achsah, Ebmisha, Imachadel, Daniel, Dama, Elamos, Izachel, Bael, Scirlin; Genium Domos.
In the grimoire this prayer is listed as one to recite several times a day as one fasts and prepares for the evocations. I have found it is a powerful prayer to recite as a daily practice. I have been viewing this prayer as a list of 28 names of spirits who can help guide me as I learn this magic.
Jake Stratton-Kent goes into some detailas to the potential derivations of each of the names in his Testament of Cyprian vol. 2 and I won't go into that here. What I want to present here is just another bit of UPG.
UPG? Unverified Personal Gnosis. In other words, information from spirits or divination that may or may not be true in an objective way. Which is funny to say about any thing in the occult. Ultimately it's all subjective so one works with the information one discovers as they may.
At any rate, I digress.
I asked my tarot cards "what is the relationship between Scirlin and the spirits of the Astrachios prayer?". Without going into the specific cards I drew, I interpreted the reading as Scirlin influences the internal world of the magician, the Verum spirits influence the external world of the magician. This is the pattern I've been using. When I want the world to be rearranged to my advantage it is Astrachios et. al. I call upon. When I need to figure out a problem or need instruction it is Scirlin I call.
So far I have had success using this model. I have had requests fulfilled by making requests of the spirits of the Astrachios prayer.
This is another route of study in this practice. I'll be posting more thoughts as I progress.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Meditations on Surgat

As I get closer to making my Surgat talisman I have been thinking quite a bit about this spirit. Here are a few of my thoughts.

Surgat, spirit of the Grimorium Verum.
Jake Stratton-Kent, in his book Geosophia vol. 2, aligns Surgat with the 25th Mansion of the Moon which begins at roughly 9 degrees Aquarius. This apparently follows attributions he has set up using the Kabbalistic Tree of Life as the outline with some astrological correspondences. I think there is great merit to his list of correspondences but it is my belief that perhaps Surgat is misattributed.

In the Grimoire of Pope Honorius Surgat is also called Aquiel. I don't think it is too far of a stretch to imagine this might indicate a relation to Aquila, the constellation called The Eagle. The stars in Aquila extend from the middle of Capricorn to just the first few degrees of Aquarius. A little far perhaps to match with JSK's attribution but really close. The major star in Aquila is Altair which these days sits at about 1 degree Aquarius. So far I take all this as confirmation that I'm on the right track; three occurrences of the Aqu- prefix. For astrological timing in works of Surgat I will use Altair as the indicator star. Altair falls directly in the middle of the 24th Mansion of the Moon.

Surgat Correspondences, part 1
1. the star Altair
2. the first degree of Aquarius
3. the Eagle, the constellation and by extension the mythic figure.
4. the element Air

Let's look at the mythic figure of the Eagle. In Classic Greek myth there are two prominent occurrences of the Eagle. First is in the story of Ganymede who was kidnapped by Zeus in the form of an Eagle. Ganymede became Zeus's water bearer and is commemorated in the constellation Aquarius. The second reference to the Eagle occurs in the imprisonment and punishment of Prometheus. Everyday the Eagle would eat Prometheus's liver as part of the punishment for giving the gift of Fire to humanity. In both of these cases the Eagle is an agent of imprisonment. This attribute supports Surgat's qualities as one who has providence over things locked or shut. Surgat is the only spirit in the Grimorium Verum described as dangerous. Perhaps it is this quality that makes him so dangerous.

Surgat Correspondences, part 2
5. the fox
6. Sunday
7. locks and keys

In Book 2 of the Grimorium Verum we have a spell using the auspices of Surgat called To Open Anything That is Shut or Locked. In this section we have a spell to enchant a lodestone with the power to open all locks. For my talisman I am taking this ability as more metaphoric than literal. At any rate, in the description of the spell we are given more correspondences.

Surgat Correspondences, part 3
8. lodestone
9. St. Andrew's cross (X)
10. the number 3
11. lead
12. the "lunar plant" and by extension The Moon

The glyph for The Moon also shows up in Surgat's sigil as do the slightly modified glyphs of Venus and Mars. It is a rather peculiar sigil. Let's analyze its elements.

At first glance this sigil looks a bit like a frowning face turned sideways, the eyes formed from the glyphs of Mars and Venus, the mouth formed by the glyph of The Moon. The "head" is formed by an ellipse with two lines on the left seeming to form an arrow and two more lines at the top forming a triangle. With the inclusion of the three planetary glyphs I can't help but see this ellipse as an astrological chart. The lines on the left forming the arrow indicate the direction the houses are counted and the direction of the planets as they travel around the circle of the represented zodiac. I'm not sure what to make of the triangle at the top of the ellipse. Perhaps it indicates the Midheaven. In the Grimorium Verum only Frimost and Surgat have explicit astrological glyphs in their sigils. The ellipse and arrow in Surgat's sigil suggests cycles; moving around a circle, beginning, traveling, and ending at the beginning. It could also indicate the span of a year or simply the passage of time.

I will continue these contemplations as I seek to work further with this spirit.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Planetary Hours

Ah, those pesky planetary hours. What are they good for anyway? How are they useful in practical terms? How can I use the Saturn hour of Venus day, for instance?

These are the questions I asked for a long time. And others have as well. I am a member of an occult themed discussion forum and occasionally the question of the planetary hours will come up. Usually the subject is met with  hands thrown in the air in frustration or firm declarations as to their unusefulness. I will try to sort out some of my understanding about the subject.

In a general sense, as you already know, the planetary hours have virtually nothing to do with the chart and actual position of the planets on a given day. They are more of a set of correspondences attributing chunks of the day to the various planets beginning at dawn and progressing in the Chaldean Order. Always 12 of various length in the daylight hours and always 12 of various length in the nighttime hours. In every 24 hour period the planetary attribution of the hour and day match four times, each 8 hours apart. What of the other 20 hours? Are they ignored or do they also have practical use?   

Speaking personally, part of my confusion was that the vast majority of magical workings to be found in the old books generally call on the magician to time their work on "the day and the hour" of such and such a planet. I generally could find no mention of mixing the planetary attributions of the days and hours. This implies that they are of lesser importance but I don't think they should be ignored.  

In Helena Avelar and Luis Ribeiro's On the Heavenly Spheres there is an appendix in which they go into detail about the planetary hours from a traditionalist point of view. What really clicked for me, and is a big clue in this little essay of mine, is the idea that the day has primacy and the hour flavors it. The power of Venus fills the daylight hours of Friday and is subtly (or not so subtly) toned with the vibrations of the planets of the hours. That is why the Venus hour on a Venus day is sought; it is the most Venusian time of the week.

It is my contention that the other hours of the day or night are no less strong in the planet's energy but that they may be shaded in such a way as to potentially go against the goals of the working. Of course  the other considerations used in elections would be in effect, like the position and aspects of the planets in question.

So to answer my own question above, an election on a Friday in a Saturn hour should still be a Venus election but it will be darkened by the influence of Saturn. Appropriate workings for Venus day Saturn hour would be to acquire love or appreciation from the elderly. Or, on a darker note, to depress or restrict happiness or harmony.

In Jason Miller's Advanced Planetary Magic he suggests the way to take advantage of the planetary hours is to call on both planets involved at the appropriate time. I think this pamphlet is important in expanding modern ideas about the purpose of the planetary hours. There is some acknowledgement of the day having primacy on the planetary influence because the invocations are not identical when the two planets are reversed. (For instance, the invocation and stated purpose for the Moon hour of a Jupiter day is different than that for the Jupiter hour of a Moon day.) But the sample invocations seem to call on the two planets somewhat equally which, in my view, is flawed. I think the influence is much less equal.

In practical terms this potentially opens up times for performing magical works based on astrological magic but it does make things a little more complicated. The best timing remains the day and hour of the individual planet. But the rest of the day is potentially available for use, just be careful that the flavor of the hour works with what you are trying to accomplish.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Reversed Tarot Cards

I do not read reversed tarot cards. There was a time when I did, or at least tried, but I gave up on the idea pretty early. Right side up has come to be the natural way I use my tarot cards and I learned to shuffle them in such a way that they are always in the same direction. The thing that tipped me to eschew reversed cards was that the first decks I learned on had asymmetrical designs on the backs. I found that when I used these cards I was constantly second guessing how to lay them down because I could tell how they were oriented before I even drew it. In retrospect I suppose I could have changed decks but it didn't occur to me at the time.

I am a big fan of the model in Mary K. Greer's 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card in which she suggests that each of the cards, Major and Minor Arcana, includes a continuum of potential meaning from asset to liability.  For me this opens up an opportunity for the cards to interact with those around it and to have a great variety of subtlety of meaning. The most difficult aspect of this style of reading, for me, was to quiet my thoughts down enough to hear what the cards were trying to tell me. I had to throw away the book because I found I was trying to fit the printed meaning into a reading in which it didn't necessarily fit.

These days I almost exclusively use Alejandro Jodorowsky's version of the Marseille Tarot. The simplistic design of the Minor Arcana, I find, suits a style of intuitive reading on a continuum. I find it difficult to read any kind of positive meaning or range of meanings into a 9 of swords in which a person is weeping or a 10 of swords in which a person is stabbed in the back as in the Rider-Waite based decks.

Once I truly grokked the idea of the continuum of meaning my tarot readings have become much more accurate and meaningful.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Hearing Responses From Spirits

Last week, at work, I had a meeting with a few young people in the afternoon. The meeting went smoothly enough and they all left, one by one, as our meeting concluded. A few minutes after the last one left I left my office to go attend some things and heard a faint knocking from one of the elevators (my office is on the third floor). One of the meeting attendees was stuck in the elevator! None of the buttons worked. We eventually had to call in the Fire Department to rescue her.
I had Surgat's sigil in my pocket.
It didn't occur to me while it was happening but was the stuck elevator the work of Surgat?

Perhaps I should back up a bit. Who is Surgat? Why did I have his sigil in my pocket? Why do I wonder if he had anything to do with the stuck elevator?

Surgat is a spirit under the governance of Duke Syrach, and possibly Astaroth, from the Grimorium Verum. His powers are listed as the ability to open anything that is shut or locked. He is also one of the few that the grimoire describes as dangerous. By my thinking, if he can open any lock then he could keep any lock closed (like an elevator door).

I had his sigil in my pocket for a couple of reasons. First, I am trying to discern the flavor of Surgat to discover whether he is one of the spirits I want to work with more closely. Which leads to my second reason, to discern which of the chiefs I want to start my Verum practice with. Sort of a way to see what the boss is like by the quality of the subordinates.
Plus I have a bit of an attraction to Surgat but I'm not sure if it is because of the warning of danger or in spite of it. As soon as I read the spell in the second part of the True Grimoire, Of Natural & Supernatural Secrets, the spell titled To Open Anything that is Shut or Locked I had ideas for a talisman based on the spell.

So I was carrying a copy of Surgat's sigil that I had drawn on a round piece of paper. I didn't produce the sigil with any ceremony nor did I elect some astrologically propitious timing. I just drew it for the purpose of carrying it about and pulling it out every now and then to contemplate it. 

In the Hadean Press's pamphlet on Elelogap, Jake Stratton-Kent suggests that in working with Elelogap that one may find one's thirst for water increasing or an increase in the urge to clean things. JSK suggested that this was the spirit making its presence known and sending subtle signals to the magician. Was the stuck elevator Surgat trying to get my attention? The wolf coin says that the incident was indeed a work of Surgat but that it was not a message to me.

I'm not sure how to interpret the incident. I wasn't the one stuck in the elevator so the doors were not locked for me. In a round about way I guess I wound up being the agent of getting the young lady out of the elevator in that I called the Security Department of the building and they called the Fire Department. Was I acting as a pale shadow of Surgat, getting ways opened?

At any rate, Surgat has my attention. Now let's see if we can work together. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Verum Tool Update

Today is the first Wednesday after the New Moon which means it was time to move forward with my Verum practice and gain some ground on gathering and consecrating the tools. I find the Grimorium Verum to be a daunting work and I have vacillated back and forth about whether or not it is a system that is really for me. But, after a time of feeling little connection to the material, the desire to move forward on it came back with a vengeance.

At this point I have gathered most of the tools at the appropriate time. They have been sitting on a shelf, waiting for the next steps to proceed. Today I moved forward on the consecration of the tools.

During the first hour of Mercury this morning I put together the aspergillum. For some reason this step has slowed me for a while, like months. Not because it was particularly difficult or because the herbs were hard to find. It just hadn't seemed like the right time. Something always seemed to come up and get in the way. The aspergillum took me the entire hour to put together which is much longer than I thought it would. But it feels solid and smells nicely. And no, I didn't use thread spun by a virgin. All my searching has been fruitless in that endeavor. Instead I used a reddish orange silk thread my partner gave me. It is a color that I associate with Scirlin and mace.

In the time between the Mercury hours I gathered all the implements that I wanted to consecrate, and the implements used to consecrate them. I mixed my incense ingredients; mace blades, aloeswood, and frankincense. Then I wrote out my ritual including all the psalms, prayers, and instructions.

During the second hour of Mercury I did the ablutions, the orisons of the instruments, asperged, and  fumigated. By the time the planetary hour was finished I had done everything except inscribe the inkhorn and the consecration of the ink put therein. In thinking about it, it may be best to be selective in how I proceed with the ink.

In fact this step forward has imparted to me a feeling that there is no rush to get this done right away. Given the wands and parchment and all the rest that is left I'm still easily two or three months working on the tools. I think I'm ok with that. I've learned that there is a benefit to taking this process slowly.

At any rate, today's working felt really solid and went smoothly. Next, the wands, the parchment. Perhaps a hatchet of the art?

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Picatrix Table of Practice

A preliminary sketch for a Table of Practice based on the Picatrix Mirror of the Seven Winds. 

Picatrix: Faces Versus Decans

I've been thinking a bit lately about the Faces and the Decans. I have, in the past, used these terms interchangeably but they are not the same thing. The defining difference is the planetary attribution. The Faces use the Chaldean order, beginning with Mars in the first Face of Aries and descending on through the 36. Alternately the Decans use a system of triplicities in which the planetary attribution is assigned based on the ruler of the subsequent signs of the same elemental attribution, on around through the 36. This essay assumes an audience that is already familiar with this concept. If you are not, here is an article by Benjamin Dykes with some of the basics.  

As I said, I would use the terms interchangeably, as do many contemporary authors, but the Picatrix explicitly calls the 36 divisions based on the Chaldean order of planets as "Faces" [bk2, ch11] and the  36 divisions based on triplicity as "Decans" [bk2, ch12]. This is the definition of these terms we will use. 

In Chapter 11 each of the faces is given as an image or a character with an intention. For example, the  3rd face of Taurus, attributed to Saturn. 
There rises in the third face ofTaurus a man of reddish complexion with large white teeth exposed outside of his mouth, and a body like an elephant with long legs; and there ascends along with him one horse, one dog, and one calf. This is a face of sloth, poverty, misery, and dread. This is its form.
One for each of the 36 faces around the zodiac.  We are told that to make a talisman with this energy we must use an election when Saturn is in the 3rd face of Taurus on a Saturday at sunrise (Saturn hour). Curiously, despite an example of how to figure the planet for each face at the beginning of the chapter, the planets are not explicitly listed for each face. It is likely, however, that the information was considered a bit obvious to need to be written rather than an implication that the planetary attribution is somehow diminished.

Then, in Chapter 12 we have an alternate list, the Decans, credited to the Hindus, and following a triplicity order. Here a planet is listed for each decan as the first line in its description. Each decan description next has its intention listed. No images are given. Nor is there a procedure described to use the decans  magically.
The third face ofTaurus is of Saturn, in which you may make an image to cause hatred and to bind men so they are not able to have sex with women, and conversely to cause women to sicken, and to separate men and women.
Ok, so maybe the 3rd face and decan of Taurus was a poor choice for my example as they are both attributed to Saturn. It happens that 9 out of the 36 planetary attributions match. The other 27 are each ruled by two different planets.

So the question becomes when do we use one list as opposed to the other? Also, what is the likely procedure to use the decans?

 The Picatrix doesn't seem to favor one over the other except that the chapter of the faces comes before the decans. The two chapter headings suggest a difference. Chapter 11 is titled The Images of the Faces of the Signs and Their Effects. Chapter 12 is titled The Figures and Degrees of the Signs and Thier Effects According To The Opinion of the Hindus, and How They Proceed In The Contemplations of This Science, and In What Manner the Virtues of Superior Bodies Are Attracted According To The Opinions of the Same, With Notable Secrets. Quite a mouthful. Brevity would suggest honor. Essentially, however, one list is probably not stronger or better than the other in terms of practice. For each of the 36 divisions either (or both) planets are available for magical use.

Magical use. This is where we need to search for some clues and take some conceptual leaps.

Because the Picatrix doesn't explicitly tell us how to use the decans we need to figure out the most likely procedure. To use the decans we have a couple of choices that come to the top of my head. There are probably more but I can't think of what they might be. Our first option, as I see it, is to use the procedure listed for the faces (planet in the face, on the planet's day at sunrise). The other likely option is to treat the decan as a constellation or fixed star (at Ascendant or Midheaven on planetary day and hour, Moon unafflicted).

The difference between these two options is not so very great and they are easily combined to give us something like this. Planet in decan, at Midheaven, first planetary hour of planetary day, Moon unafflicted. Is this too specific?

It turns out yes. We can't have a Midheaven rule at sunrise because Mercury, Venus, and the Sun itself will never be at the Midheaven at sunrise. Therefore the Ascendant takes primacy. But watch out for combustion with the Sun.

It seems I need to think about this more.

Next up: specific decan elections using the above rules.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Personal Tarot Deck

So I am staring to create my own Tarot deck. This is my second attempt, the first attempt didn't work out so well. I lost it somewhere around the Tower (I was doing them in order). This time I am newly inspired and I'm using a whole different approach.

The Papesse

The Fool

I have yet to design a frame or a back but I like how these are looking so far.
Next, The Magician.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Perfect Nature, part 2

Let's continue analyzing the 6th chapter of book 3 of the Latin Picatrix. In part 1 we talked about the elements of the chapter up to and including the actual Ritual of Perfect Nature itself. Now we get into some philosophical territory and a description of one of the keys to working the magic of the Picatrix.
 Aristotle said furthermore that each sage had his proper virtue infused into him by exalted spirits, by whose powers their senses were closed, their intellects opened, and sciences were revealed to them. This virtue was conjoined with the virtue of the planet ruling the radix of the nativity, so that the virtue thus co-created in them strengthened them and gave intelligence to them. These same ancient sages and kings used to do this working and pray this prayer with the four names given above, by which they helped themselves in their knowledge and understanding, and the increase of their business and possessions, and guarded themselves from the plots of their enemies, and did many other things.
So now that we have just completed the Ritual of Perfect Nature, thereby putting our higher selves in order. Now the text goes into talking about the qualities and attributes of Perfect Nature. We are told that the magician has "his proper virtue infused in him by exalted spirits". What is this proper virtue? I contend that it is the magician's connection to their personal inner world, the spiritual realm, and by extension, God. It is through this connection to higher realms that makes a magician a magician. This connection works by closing the senses and opening the intellect. This sounds like a meditation technique in which the magician explores the inner realms.

We are then told that the virtue is "conjoined" and "co-created" by the planet ruling the nativity of the magician. Clearly then, the exalted spirits are independent of the planetary spirits. The exalted spirits are the four Spirits of Perfect Nature. They are strengthened by, and take on the flavor of, one of the seven planets. Does this mean that the planet is the entree to understanding the Spirits of Perfect Nature? How would a Mercurial Perfect Nature be different from a Jovial Perfect Nature? At any rate, it becomes apparent that Perfect Nature, as the unity, is different for each person and takes on the nature of the planet ruling the nativity of the magician.

 Aristotle said that the first who worked with images, and the one to whom spirits first appeared, was Caraphzebiz. He it was who first discovered the magical art, and spirits appeared first to him, performing wonders, and opening Perfect Nature to his knowledge, and made him understand that same secret nature and sciences. His familiar spirit said to him: I will remain with you, but do not reveal me to others or speak of me, and make sacrifices in my name. He became a sage by working with the spirits, and helped himself by their powers and by workings in which they took part.

 Caraphzebiz is presented as the father of the magic of the Picatrix. As of yet I have not been able to find any history or derivation of this name. We also have two clues as to the "maintenance" of a relationship of the magician and his familiar spirit of Perfect Nature: make sacrifices and tell no one. Interestingly elsewhere in the Picatrix we are told that another person's disbelief or derision diminishes the work. The keep silent rule seems a reiteration of this point.  
From that sage Caraphzebiz down to another sage named Amenus (who was the second to work with spirits and magical operations) 1260 years passed by. This sage, when he taught, used to offer this advice, that any sage who wanted to work magic, and preserve himself with the powers of the spirits, ought strictly to give up all cares and all other sciences beside this one, because when all the senses and the mind, and all contemplations about other things, are strictly turned to magic, it may be acquired with ease; and since many assiduous contemplations are appropriate to this science of magic, the magician must wrap himself in these, rather than being wrapped around any other things.

Here we have two ancient magicians named as the first to work with spirits in this way. In terms of evocation and spirit work these two names can be added to the list of entities available to the magician to call upon as teachers and exalted masters.  The interval of time between them seems oddly specific. It is tempting to try and equate this number with the rotation of fixed stars or the speed of Saturn or Jupiter, but I think this is erroneous. 1260 probably is derived from some other source.

Again we are told to concentrate on magic as the way to learn it. And while I am not in a position to be able to quit my day job in favor of magical work, I do devote energy every day to learning magic. From this passage we are told that distraction is anathema to the practice of this magic.

Tintinz the Greek said the same thing in the beginning of his book, that one who desires to perform this work ought to abandon all intention and contemplation concerning other things, because the root and foundation of all these workings consists of contemplations. Aristotle said that an image is called an image for this reason, that the powers of spirits are conjoined to it, for contemplation goes into anything in which the virtue consists of a hidden spirit. The powers of the spirits are fourfold: that is, the senses, which are said to be joined to the world; the spirit of things, to which spirit is attracted; the spirit of perfect, sane, and unbroken contemplation; and the spirit by which works are done by the hands. These three spirits in matter, which exist in intention and effect, are coadunated in perfect contemplation with the senses, which we have said are joined to the world.
From my perspective this is one of, if not the, most important paragraph in the whole book in terms of understanding the ritual procedure of the Picatrix.
The root and foundation of the work consists of contemplations. 
Contemplations, in this context, means concentration, meditation, visualization, and active imagination. In modern parlance, skrying and working on the Astral Plane. In fact, contemplation "goes into anything in which the virtue consists of a hidden spirit". It is the act of visualization that makes an object magical as opposed to mundane.

In addition to contemplation there are three other elements that make a magical image. Referred to as Spirits, the four are:
  1. The Spirit of the Senses. I interpret this to mean the trappings of ceremony; colors, scents, setting, astrological election time, words, libations, and so on.
  2.  The Spirit of Things. I interpret this to be the physical material from which the talisman is constructed, the image itself, and other additions used to strengthen the correspondences (stones, herbs, metals, dust, washes)
  3. The Spirit of Perfect, Sane, Unbroken Contemplation. In other words meditation, visualization, energy work, intent, belief, and spirit communication.
  4. The Spirit by Which Works Are Done With the Hands. This means the actual physical building or finishing of the talisman. 
Effective workings using the Picatrix must consist of all four of these elements.

The senses attract rays and bring them to those things toward which they are directed, like a mirror that is raised up into the light of the Sun, and reflects his rays into the shadows to either side; it receives the Sun's rays from his light, and projects them into shadowy places; and those shadowy places become bright and illuminated, nor is the Sun's light diminished thereby. This is how the three spirits named above work, when the spirits of motion and rest are joined to the superior world while in contact with the senses; they attract the powers of the spirits of the superior world, and pour them out upon matter. This is the foundation of images, and why they are given that name.
This paragraph goes into some detail about the previous one. Essentially it says that Senses, Things, and Work of the Hands all attract the influence of the spiritual world and it is Contemplation that directs it.

As an example, let's say you are working on a Saturn talisman. You have worked with the Spirit of the Senses by figuring out a correct  election time in which to make it, dressing in black wool, lighting black candles, writing out an appropriate invocation, and picking a rough secluded location for the working. You have worked with the Spirit of Things by choosing lead, Saturnine herbs, and Saturnine stones with which to construct the talisman (or perhaps you have chosen a Saturn image to render on paper). These were gathered using Saturn timing. You work with the Spirit of Contemplation by praying, fasting, and visualizing the power of Saturn flowing into your talisman by the smoke of its suffumigation. Finally, at the appropriate time, you are constructing, engraving, drawing, assembling, and/ or finishing the talisman by manipulating it with the hands. As election windows can be somewhat brief much of the talisman can be assembled before the election occurs as long as you save some work for the consecration ritual.

Socrates said that Perfect Nature is the Sun of the wise and its root is light. Certain people inquired of Hermes the sage, asking: "With what are science and philosophy joined?" He answered, "With Perfect Nature." They asked again, saying, "What is the root of science and philosophy?" He said, "Perfect Nature." Then they questioned him more closely: "What is the key by which science and philosophy are opened?" He answered, "Perfect Nature." They then asked of him, "What is Perfect Nature?" He answered, "Perfect Nature is the spirit of the philosopher or sage linked to the planet that governs him. This is that which opens the closed places of knowledge, and by which is understood that which cannot otherwise be understood at all, and from which workings proceed naturally both in sleep and in waking."
The first line of this paragraph is a puzzle to me. I have heard some contend that "its root is light" means that the talismans are empowered, in part by literal rays of light from celestial bodies. Doing a Saturn talisman? Make sure the light of Saturn falls upon the surface of your talisman. While this actually may be helpful I don't think that is what is meant in this line. I have also heard others saying that it means the best talismans are somehow shiny or luminescent. I think these two interpretations are a bit too simplistic. But I have no counterpoint. Somehow I suspect that "light" may have a shifting meaning and be more subtle than these other explanations.

The paragraph continues with Hermes answering every question with "Perfect Nature", indicating that Perfect Nature is the root of all science and philosophy and apparently the only way to understand them. Then it is reiterated that Perfect Nature is the spirit of the magician linked to the planet that rules his/ her nativity, as we noted at the beginning of this part 2 essay.

Thus it is clear from the foregoing that Perfect Nature acts in the sage or philosopher as a teacher toward a student, teaching the latter first in simple and easy matters, and then proceeding step by step to greater and more difficult ones, until the student is perfect in knowledge. When Perfect Nature works in this way, according to its own virtue and influence, the intellect of the philosopher is disposed according to his natural inclination. You should understand this, committing it to memory, because from the foregoing it may be concluded that it is impossible for anybody to attain this science except those who are naturally inclined to it, both by their own virtue and by the disposition of the planet ruling in their nativity.
The concluding paragraph of chapter 6 tells us that the ruling planet of the magician's birth chart influences the way in which Perfect Nature teaches the magician what they need to learn. I think it is also helpful to keep in mind the relationship between Perfect Nature and the magician, a teacher toward a student. Perfect Nature is not a spirit to be threatened or commanded but one that has the best interests of the magician at heart.

In conclusion I would like to suggest that this be one of the first things students of the Picatrix tackle. Making contact with the Spirit of Perfect Nature using the four names. By this other avenues are opened.